Posts Tagged ‘Action’
The story of the banned comic Action.
(Originally published in Vector, Nov 1999)
Action was a short-lived comic that was first published on 14th February 1976 and was ‘killed’ towards the end of that year. It was content was unique, not so much for the subject of its stories but for their tone, written with a maturity not seen before in this field. It was, on the one hand massively popular with its loyal army of fans whilst on the other, nationally infamous and reviled by its critics. The following is a brief history of the comic, and of some of more its more controversial and interesting stories.
During the 1950s and 60s the sales of comics boomed. The two main publishers, IPC (later Fleetway) and D. C. Thompson published comics for boys to a formula established by Eagle. It was middle class, written by middle-aged men and aimed to instill a high moral tone in Britain’s youth. Clean cut heroes had simple adventures against unproblematic baddies, and it was always obvious who was going to win. This formula had worked successfully for twenty years, but by the late 60s things were changing. Sales were sliding, comics had folded and many titles that were left were at close to brake-even point. The Eagle itself went in 1969. Both companies decided to act. D.C. Thompson brought-out the gritty Warlord in 1974 with all its stories based in the Second World War. It was much more aggressive than previous titles, with greater realism and heroes who found life that bit tougher than before. It sold well, so IPC had to respond. The problem was that virtually all of IPC staff firmly rooted in the traditions and values of the Eagle. In secret the Editorial Director, John Sanders, hired in two freelancers Pat Mills and John Wager to produce Battle. The in-house staff naturally did not like this, but Battle was a hit. Wager was given Valiant to revive whilst Mills was asked to work on something new and without precedent – Action.